Saturday, October 8, 2016

Room-based Video and Web Conferencing Merging

Yesterday I had a call from an e-learning support unit, asking if they should install the latest version of Echo 360 with audience response "clicker" functionality. Echo 360 was installed primarily for recording lectures for students to play back later. But it now can provide students with quizzes they can do on their mobile device, live in the classroom (or later at home). So what was a room-based videoconferencing system is offering features of web conferencing (synchronous quizzes) and of an LMS (asynchronous quizzes). The problem then is we have overlapping features from different products.

In this instance I suggested not implementing the quiz function, if it compromised lecture recording. Students are rightly annoyed when a lecture recording fails. Using clickers is not just a matter of enabling software, it requires the "lecturer" to be trained in a new teaching technique.

In the longer term it might be interesting to consider using Webinars for lectures, in place of lecture recording software. Students in the room can then use the quizzes and text chat functions of the Webinar, as can remote students. This can be recorded and made available to students for later replay. This involves flipping the thinking about the form of education, from it being a "lecture" which is broadcast for some who can't attend, to an on-line event which has some participants in the same room (a "lecture theater").

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